Gender, Environment, Politics & Culture to Take the Stage in 2016 LA MAMA MOVES Dance Festival

By: Mar. 30, 2016

Nine world premieres and three American premieres highlight the 2016 La MaMa Moves Dance Festival, running April 29 - May 29, 2016. Contemporary issues of gender, current ideas about the environment, questions about politics and culture are threaded through the works of the 17 artists representing many nations and generations.

First, meet Katy Pyle, whose "Sleeping Beauty and the Beast," a world premiere, upends conventional notions of gender, offering a triple pirouette spin on the themes of the 1890 classic ballet as well as the 18th century tale, "Beauty and the Beast." Then meet Tiffany Mills, whose "After the Feast" looks with fear and warning at our heedless destruction of the environment, and then consider Cardell Dance Theater's "Supper, people of the Move," an immersive work that explores the consequences of migration and immigration.

These three artists and the 14 other participants, who comprise the 2016 La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival cannot turn their backs on the world's social, political, sexual and cultural challenges, transforming them into inevitable subjects for dance.

"This year's choreographers ask some deep and sometimes dark questions about the world we live in and the future we are shaping," said Nicky Paraiso, who has shared the curation of the festival since its inception 11 years ago. "Their work promises to explore with wit and passion the issues that are currently facing this generation and generations to follow."

In her commitment to opening the ballet canon to a reassessment of gender roles, Pyle described her festival contribution this way: "'Sleeping Beauty & the Beast' is a two-act, two theater Ballez that merges two classic tales, re-writing them to insert the herstory of L.E.S. lesbian activists into the ballet canon: the striking garment workers of 1893, and the AIDS activist dykes of 1993." Performed to live music by the Queer Urban Orchestra, Pyle's ballet is populated by a cast of characters from 'Sleeping Beauty' as well as from various fairy tales including Beast, Aurora Carabosse, Violet Faierie, Scarlet Faierie, Lesbian Princess, Dying Swans, Firebird, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood, among others.

Silvana Cardell's "Supper, people on the Move," which was greeted with rave reviews and packed houses at its 2015 premiere in Philadelphia, brims with the emotional power that is part and parcel of the psychological and physical challenges of an immigrant's journey. The audience becomes part of the experience, most notably at the conclusion of the work when it is invited to join the dancers for a meal at the dinner table, which has been transformed into various scenic devices throughout the 55-minute performance. A photo exhibition, "People on the Move," featuring personal stories of Philadelphia-area immigrants, will be on display in the theater lobby.

Taking place in an imagined urban dystopia created by vanishing resources, "After the Feast" questions the possibility of a community emerging from such horrifying circumstances. Kay Cumming serves as the production's dramaturg; Jonathan Melville Pratt is the composer for the six-dancer work, and the visual design is by Dennis O'Leary.

In keeping with La MaMa's unique worldview, 12 of the 14 artists are from other countries with their different cultural and artistic backgrounds mightily contributing to the irrepressible vitality, aesthetic variety and varying points of view that has always signified the Festival. The artists include: Suk Soon Jung (Korea); Amanda Loulaki (Greek-born); Yvonne Meier (Swiss-born); Afshin Varjavandi (Italy); Sonia Olla (Spanish-born); Silvana Cardell (Argentinian-born); Jeremy Nelson (British-born); Luis Lara-Malvacias (Venezuelan-born); Poorna Swami (Indian-born); Bruno Isakovic (Croatian); Ori Flomin (Israeli-born) and Helena Franzen (Swedish).

La MaMa Moves! will take place at the Ellen Stewart Theatre, The Club, The Downstairs and The First Floor Theatre at La MaMa. The Ellen Stewart Theatre and The Downstairs are located at 66 East 4th Street. The Club and The First Floor Theatre are located at 74A East 4th Street.

Adult Tickets: $35 - $20; Student and Seniors Tickets: $30 - $15. La MaMa also makes ten tickets available for $10 each to every performance, advance purchase only, as part of their 10@$10 ticketing initiative. All tickets can be purchased online at or at the La MaMa Box Office located at 66 East 4th Street, from noon to 6pm. The box office phone number is 646-430-5374.

Pictured: "Sleeping Beauty and the Beast" by Katy Pyle. Photo by Theo Cote.


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